3/25/2007

The Almighty Central Board of Film Certification (peace be upon it)

"In a country where the lingam and the yoni are publicly worshipped and where a book on Kama Sutra has been written, what will happen if a couple is shown kissing as a mark of love and affection? Surely the Ganga will not be on fire!"
G. D. Khosla, former Indian chief justice and chairman of an enquiry committee on film censorship.

The above question by G. D. Khosla epitomizes the whole problem with Indian CBFC (peace be upon it) and the way it treats adults as nothing but nursery sheeps, incapable of deciding for themselves and always looking up at an higher authority for viewing tips. The underemployed at the CBFC (peace be upon it) proudly boasts on its website,
Film censorship becomes necessary because a film motivates thought and action and assures a high degree of attention and retention as compared to the printed word. The combination of act and speech, sight and sound in semi darkness of the theatre with elimination of all distracting ideas will have a strong impact on the minds of the viewers and can affect emotions. Therefore, it has as much potential for evil as it has for good and has an equal potential to instill or cultivate violent or good behaviour. It cannot be equated with other modes of communication. Censorship by prior restraint is, therefore, not only desirable but also necessary.

And who is this almighty deciding what is good for adult's emotions, morale, public order etc ? It's whoever is the current King or Queen of CBFC (peace be upon it). As of March 2007, its Sharmila Tagore (peace be upon her).


In a recent interview with Karan Thapar, she mentioned that "Indians are not ready for it (porn) ". IMHO, if Indians were ready for a two piece (gorgeous) bikini bomb in Evening in Paris in 1967, it is high time Vijay Anand is taken seriously and the Cinematograph Act of 1952 be revised and adult entertainment industry managed with a XA rating rather than banned outright. Click here for some other interesting story surrounding Vijay Anand's resignation from CBFC (peace be upon it). Coming back to our topic, this infallible Mother Lady (peace be upon her) now decides what is good taste and what is bad, what movies can potentially affect your wisdom, what can affect your subhuman sensibilities and what can deprave you of your morals, what words or actions cater to your inner Satanic subliminals and so on. Here is the complete requirements for a film from the CBFC (peace be upon it) website.



(i) anti social activities such as violence are not glorified or justified

(ii) the modus operandi of criminals, other visuals or words likely to incite the commission of any offence are not depicted;

(iii) scenes
  1. showing involvement of children in violence as victims or perpetrators or as forced witnesses to violence, or showing children as being subjected to any form of child abuse;
  2. showing abuse or ridicule of physically and mentally handicapped persons; and
  3. showing cruelty to, or abuse of animals, are not presented needlessly

(iv) pointless or avoidable scenes of violence, cruelty and horror, scenes of violence primarily intended to provide entertainment and such scenes as may have the effect of de-sensitising or de-humanising people are not shown;

(v) scenes which have the effect of justifying or glorifying drinking are not shown;


(vi) scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise drug addiction are not shown;

(vi-a) scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise consumption of tobacco or smoking are not shown;

(vii) human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;

(viii) such dual meaning words as obviously cater to baser instincts are not allowed;

(ix) scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;

(x) scenes involving sexual violence against women like attempt to rape, rape or any form of molestation or scenes of a similar nature are avoided, and if any such incidence is germane to the theme, they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown

(xi) scenes showing sexual perversions shall be avoided and if such matters are germane to the theme they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown

(xii) visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented

(xiii) visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitude are not presented

(xiv) the sovereignty and integrity of India is not called in question;

(xv) the security of the State is not jeopardized or endangered

(xvi) friendly relations with foreign States are not strained;

(xvii) public order is not endangered

(xviii) visuals or words involving defamation of an individual or a body of individuals, or contempt of court are not presented
EXPLANATION: Scenes that tend to create scorn, disgrace or disregard of rules or undermine the dignity of court will come under the term 'Contempt of Court' : and

(xix) national symbols and emblems are not shown except in accordance with the provisions of the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (12 of 1950)

I am wondering if there is ANY movie which does not violate atleast one of the above. The sad part is that the Indian CBFC (peace be upon it) is a certification agency, as opposed to say MPAA in USA which is a rating agency. If a film does not pass the CBFC (peace be upon it) litmus test, there is no way anybody in India can legally see it. Whereas, filmmakers in USA are not bound by any laws to get certified. Even the MPAA ratings are completely voluntary.

We are over 50 years old since gaining independence from British. But a long way from gaining independence from the underemployed at CBFC (peace be upon it) and deciding for ourselves, as adults, what to see and what not.